Canada’s Next Top Model

Ohmigod. I didn’t even know there was a Canada’s Next Top Model. I am ashamed and fascinated. This is so Canadian that I don’t even think it airs in Montreal. Anyway, I have I mentioned before that I love America’s Next Top Model? Tyra Banks is totally nuts, but she’s not even the best part. The infatuation comes with the presentation of the whole thing, the farcical, forced, scripted spontaneity. It’s almost so predictable and crappy that it’s like watching a car crash: potentially horrific, but you have to look. And the girls are really and truly stereotypical bubbily waifs, and the ones who have an ounce of brains make the show a dramatic endeavour. I was watching FT and they have a show that was literally a recap of the last season of Britain’s Next Top Model. It is really amazing how you can see a nation’s identity from the people in reality shows, from the situations the producers create to entertain people like me, the lowest common denominator.

Weekend in Toronto, ON (The ‘Ront)

1) We listened to DNTO on the drive down to Toronto. It was timed perfectly: Neptune fell asleep and Sook-Yin took us all the way to Kingston. At any rate, the CBC loves to play it’s Canadian indie-folk-rock, and I realised just how much musicians from Ontario love their banjo. Its a staple, part of Ontario’s identity, I suppose. Listen for it…

2) Because we are obsessed, we did a mini Restaurant Makeover tour. Basically anytime I saw a place in Toronto that’s been on the show I would point it out to Murray and we would get all excited, as if we’d just seen some big celebrity. It was pretty pathetic, really. We only saw two (Grappa and Saigon Flower), and the designers kind of homogonise/sterilise the look of the restaurants anyway. But it is 100% entertaining, so I call that a success.

3) It is confirmed, the world is crumbling and its not just us. I was reading a Toronto Star review of the Monterey Pop 40 year anniversary CD (which I can’t find online…sorry!). While the review of the tracks was moderately favourable, the writer touched on an interesting idea. He drew parallels between the socio-cultural climate then (1967) and now (2007): a war nobody cares about (Vietnam/Iraq), general malaise about the human condition, the crumbling environment, uncertainy about the future, and a shift in the recording industry (vinyls replaced by tapes or 8-tracks & our digital downloading era). Also the writer touched on the calibre of music created in uncertain times: is this a human reflex, to connect with better music when our society is fractured? How does a society reconcile these things that are bigger than us, things that are overwhelming for any individual to take on? Sometimes my heart is so heavy with the terrible and idiotic state of the world. Canadians, North Americans are all confused, lost and misguided in their own way. But we are slowly realising that it is time to take control of our lives, to walk the fine line between a money-driven life and one driven by Love. But its not just us: friends in different cities and of varying ages, are feeling the same and sensing the pressure it puts on their daily lives, on getting their shit together, on realising who they are. It was strange to randomly have similar conversations with different people: Maggie, Amanda, Kevin B., all saying the same thing about their lives. Amanda described the crossover as “rhizomal.” She also had the idea totally conceptualised, which would be a whole other thing to get into.

Simple, Rustic, Honest Food

So Murray and I have been working a lot on our kitchen and it is nearly done. Sometimes it’s strange to reconcile real life inside our home, and real life outside our home. I love getting domestic, gardening and growing my own food, sewing and just tidying up. But for a second today I was getting a little tour-sick…every now and again I miss being on tour, I look forward to going to England, going to Pret and Muji. Like who is really me: tour Natalia or home Natalia? We are definite beings, her and I.

I am really fond of TV chef, Gordon Ramsay. Hell’s Kitchen is entertaining enough for a reality show, but Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares really gives a lot more. I have a lot of respect for Chef Ramsay: he’s a hardass and doesn’t take any bullshit. I like his style. I’m finding it inspiring in an everyday sense, that being nice will only go so far. I watched an episode tonight where the owner of the restaurant was too nice to fire his useless chef, so his business was crumbling. And Chef Ramsay was kicking his ass to do something about it. Anyway, the restaurant has probably gone down in flames since the show aired. But Chef Ramsay, I salute you! Shrewd on the business side, and totally pragmatic on the food side, he’s a proper genius.

Jamie At Home is pretty good too, but he’s a bit too fussy. Like yeah right I could grow letttuce between the stones in my backyard, or have enough time to groom, feed and water a complete herb garden. Its a bit bougey. He means well, and totally gave his show this indie-rock vibe. It’s pretty hilarious. Anyhow Jamie Oliver’s show probably contributed to my UK-homesickness: there’s no way gardening could happen that easily in Montreal. We have like a two-month growing season. I could get into the temperate climate in the UK: they’ve got giant rosemary and lavender over there.


One of the painfully normal things I enjoy about being at home

Can you imagine the number of burnouts reality TV is producing? My new favourite is Rockstar: Supernova. The amazing thing is the “contestants” can barely sing; they are all preoccupied with looking the part and having the right moves and accessories. Its amazing entertainment, seeing these people so embarassingly caught up in themselves. Krief saw the show last night and recognised the Toronto guy: “No way! I had beers with that guy a few months ago. He actually went up to sing on the open mike night at the bar.” See now that’s dark. That guy (Lukas something) is a burnout in waiting. Imagine all the instances in our futures, at the pub, chatting with some ding dong who’s proclaimed that the highlight of his life was being on so-and-so reality show. Its so widespread that our paths will cross sooner or later….just a matter of time.

The video is done, done, done.

Our camera broke. It broke while we were at the other side of the Pacific Ocean at Bondi Bay. Was it sand in the lens? Anyway, no pictures of us Canadians wading to our knees, proclaiming: “Its so warm!” while Jonathan from Speak’n’Spell watches us, shivering. Then trips to London, Toronto, and no photographic evidence. As if time passes, memories are lost forever. I tell myself: “Oh, I’ll remember this,” but I never do if somebody doesn’t remind me.

Murray cajoled it back into operation, getting a few shots of the Frenches at the fitting for our video. That went over well enough, at least for the guys. They came out looking hot. Val and I were uncertain in trendy black dresses and accessories that made us look like we were going to a wedding or to our high school reunions. At the eleventh hour, Murray called it off and we brought our own clothes, basically. Things that looked natural on us, things we would actually wear on stage.

On the day of the shoot, we stopped for bagels on the way. Murray, Tara (from Maple), Neptune and I munched on still-warm St-Viateur bagels that we dipped gluttonously into either cream cheese or hummous. We drove out to St-Hubert, alonf industrial parkways I never new existed.

We pull up to an airplane hangar that has been converted into a sound studio. About a dozen people have been working there all morning setting up lights, the backdrop and Nedward was there working on the silhouettes. They look amazing. Everything looks amazing. Are we actually going to pull this off? Will the video succeed in coming out like the treatment? The day wears on and the director, Maxime, is just motoring through the shots with Murray checking out since the idea is following the vision he had for it. Then they load in the big YOU sign that Nedward made. It looks a little ghetto but when it was positioned and switched on it looked fantastic. Murray’s wearing his white suit and he looks really good and sharp. I was watching some of his performances on the playback and he’s really nailing it. I feel good about this.

Then it gets classically complicated. Deadlines, scheduling, transfers, closed-captionning, colour correction…the first edit is disappointing. Its a bit slowly paced and not aggressive enough. I just remember these killer shots of Krief playing his guitar like he was punching someone in the face. And I got this huge bruise from bashing that tambourine on my hip all day. That needs to be in there, doesn’t it? Murray gets in on the second (and final) editing session and holy shit he’s good. I knew he had that in him, the ability to express something visual AND musical. And he did it; put us back into the video. The more I watch it the more I like everything about it.

I always get so self conscious about video photo shoots. Like there’s this wildcard aspect and I can’t control what I’m gonna look like. I was especially frustrated that the make-up-and-hair guy barely spoke any english. It’s kind of important, to be able to communicate that no, I don’t want poofy, teased up bangs so please stop working towards that. I try not to be vain but sometimes I just have to. Vanity truly is a horrible thing so I’d rather avoid the surrounding issues as much as possible. Anyhow, point being that I had to get over the minutiae of “Is that lip gloss too much?” or “Why am I looking that way?” and “Is that what I really look like?” before I could move forward. It’s a classic woman’s dilemma. We all watched Sex and The City: self-consciousness is a reality…in real life, that is.